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Research on the best practices at the middle school level suggests that early adolescent students need an educational environment that is unlike elementary or high school. Young people between the ages of 10 and 14 are experiencing rapid changes in their cognitive, social, emotional, and physical development. In order to meet these needs, middle school curriculum must provide opportunities for students to broaden their knowledge base, explore areas of interest, and acquire a sense of self as they seek to understand their place within the larger society. An effective way to reach such goals, at the middle level, is through the design and implementation of integrated curriculum. The purpose of this investigation was to identify the professional beliefs of middle level educators who integrate the curriculum and the conditions that support the implementation of curriculum integration. Ten middle level teachers who represented two interdisciplinary teams participated in the study. One team taught a group of approximately 100 seventh grade students and the other team was comprised of a combination of 100 seventh and eighth graders. Naturalistic qualitative research methodology was used for data collection. Each participant was interviewed by the investigator, and individually responded to a written questionnaire. Ten hours of audio-taped interviews were collected and seven hours of videotaped team planning sessions were recorded and analyzed. This study suggests that there are both extrinsic and intrinsic factors that drive the design and implementation of integrated curriculum at the middle school level. The data revealed that contrasting strengths and diversity in roles taken on by interdisciplinary team members maintained a balanced team effort when planning Integrated instruction. Factors such as personal definition of integrated curriculum, knowledge of early adolescent development, and pedagogy were identified as intrinsic factors that influenced the design of integrated units, instructional methods, and instructional roles in the classroom. Furthermore, extrinsic factors such as curriculum standards, school structures and support from team members and the administration have a direct impact on what and how teachers teach. Extrinsic factors are often so powerful that no matter how strong a teacher's professional beliefs about teaching and learning, extrinsic factors determine the direction of educational programs.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.



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